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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad asserted today that the Malaysian ringgit will become stronger the moment Datuk Seri Najib Razak steps down as prime minister.
The guest-of-honour at a high-tea talk organised by the Ampang Umno division, the retired prime minister of 22 years said the country and economy have already suffered the ill effects of the various scandals allegedly linked to the prime minister, and can only benefit from removing the source of the problems.
“I am fully confident that if you remove Najib as prime minister, the value of the ringgit will increase,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the economy has become progressively worse with the ringgit currently at 4.41 to the US dollar and has been persistently sluggish in the local stock exchange.
He stressed that the government in the past would have been worried by even a slight dip in the value of the ringgit, in stark contrast to Putrajaya’s current preference for allegedly sugar-coating the situation.
“In the past we’d go bald if the value fell. Now they say ‘it’s okay, our economy is okay’,” said the 90-year-old who had also held the Finance Ministry portfolio.
“People will think stocks will fall if the value of the ringgit falls, so they will quickly sell. But don’t worry, our economy is very good. Just ask Najib, he’s a specialist in economy. I’m just a medical doctor, I’m no expert in economy,” he added.
Dr Mahathir later said at a news conference that he was not alone in his assessment, claiming that even Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz has said that the ongoing controversy over 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and several others are weighing down the ringgit and economy.
Najib was implicated in corruption investigations into 1MDB after US-based Wall Street Journal reported in July that some US$700 million was funnelled through several government entities into the prime minister’s personal bank accounts two months before the tumultuous May 5, 2013 general elections.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has since announced that the money deposited into Najib’s accounts was a donation from a Middle Eastern source.
The prime minister has also denied using any public money, including from 1MDB for personal benefit, though questions have mounted over the source and purpose of the funds.
Dr Mahathir has been among the most vocal critics against 1MBD in the BN and have demanded Najib take responsibility for his brainchild, which is under corruption investigation by government agencies in several countries, including Hong Kong, Switzerland and the UK.
The Kedah-born had also joined in the two-day Bersih 4 rally in Kuala Lumpur, and urged Malaysians to use their “people power” to push for Najib’s removal through a no-confidence vote in Parliament.